Caption reads: “The phonograph at home reading out a novel.” From Daily Graphic (New York), 2 April 1878. Less than a year after the invention of the phonograph, this drawing offered a future vision. Novels however would remain impractical for phonographs until the 1930s.
As an author, I subscribe to several author resource sites, and I’ve found that it’s rare that I don’t get an update from them at least once every month or two claiming how quickly audiobooks are growing as a segment of the marketplace. With one notable exception, however, I’ve never really gotten into that market.
But I can see their point. If I don’t listen to books, there is no way I can read anything, as I just don’t have the time. I have an app on my phone that will take PDFs, eBooks, etc., and read them back to me through text to speech. That’s nice, as I can listen to the book, eBooks are cheap, and if the voice is digitally created and has little inflection, it’s better than nothing. But audiobooks are so much better, especially if the narrator is talented. And contrary to popular belief, audiobooks are not as new as some people think. As the caption above reads, they’ve been around in phonograph form since the 1930s, though they were called “talking books.” It’s only in recent years since technology has progressed to the point where producing them has become so much more inexpensive and the means of distributing them so easy that they’ve become popular.
The reason I have never gotten into the market is simple—even with how it is preferable to have books out in as many formats as possible, I’ve just never thought doing audiobooks was worthwhile from a time versus benefit standpoint. There are a few ways to get a book into audio format. There are services that, for the right price, can help an author create audiobooks with decent quality, services like Findaway Voices and ACX. I’ve also looked into creating my own setup, doing the voice work and selling it myself. I’ve done some homework on both options, and while the first doesn’t come with the time consumption of the second, I’ve just never thought it was worth the bother. Furthermore, though the option of doing it myself is appealing, the time commitment is atrocious, and while I have a voice that I think would do okay, I’m a bit of a halting reader when I read aloud.
That leaves the third option. As some of you may know, one of my novels, In the Wilds of Derbyshire, was published as an audiobook by a publisher. Thereafter, however, they declined to do any more of my work. I continued on doing my thing for a couple of years, and then they approached me again for In Default of Heirs Male. (Is it books that start with “in” that does it? There seems to be a theme here . . .)
Therefore, I’m pleased to announce that In Default of Heirs Male is now contracted and scheduled to be released as an audiobook in December. But that isn’t all. When they approached me, I thought about it for a bit and decided that it really didn’t make sense to publish audiobooks 6 – 9 months after they were originally published in eBook and paperback format. Thus, I proposed to them that I would submit new manuscripts for their review and coordinate releases.
I see this as a significant step forward in my development as an author and will potentially impact more than just Pride and Prejudice variations. It may be that some of my future fantasy stuff will also find their way into the audiobook market. There is also the chance that some of my older successful works will also be published, and I’ve already convinced them to publish The Mistress of Longbourn, which is probably my most successful book to date. Where this will affect my releases in the future is in the timing. It takes time to produce an audiobook, such that my current timelines simply won’t cut it. My agreement is not that they will publish all my future works, but that I will submit to them for consideration. If they decide to pick one up, it will be delayed. Any books they decide not to publish I will follow my usual publishing procedures.
One more thing to note: if you’ve listened to the audiobook of In the Wilds of Derbyshire, you likely know it was narrated by Mary Sarah, who is an excellent voice actor. I’ve requested her if possible for In Default of Heirs Male, and I’m hope they’re able to bring her on board. Her work on my first book was top notch!
Now a final bit of housekeeping as is my wont. I have a novella I’m putting out next week, titled Danger at the Netherfield Ball. With so ominous a title, you should expect some dastardly deeds by one of our favorite villains! Next up, the second book that many have been waiting for, Bonds of Life. I apologize, but I’m going to have to delay it another month. This two book set has been one of the most difficult things I’ve written, and it’s just not gone as fast as many others. Thus, the release date will now be in late November. My next offering, which is already part of my daily tasks, will be the first that may be affected by a potential audiobook release.